These Ghosts Are Family
by Maisy Card
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add email@example.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 03 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 05 Jan 2024
Shortlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
A “rich, ambitious debut novel” (The New York Times Book Review) that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
Stanford Solomon’s shocking, thirty-year-old secret is about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford has done something no one could ever imagine. He is a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley.
And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.
These Ghosts Are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present-day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of a single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the houseboy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.
This “rich and layered story” (Kirkus Reviews) explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is a “beguiling…vividly drawn, and compelling” (BookPage, starred review) portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 119 members
The premise of These Ghosts Are Family is fantastic - the elderly Stanford Solomon has decided to reveal to his family that he is actually Abel Paisley, a man who stole the identity of his dead best friend. Abel remains a mystery for much of the book - which I don't really mind - and the bulk of his story is recounted by his female relatives: his first wife and their eldest daughter, his granddaughter from his second marriage, his illegitimate daughter from an affair. This contemporary family drama is intertwined with accounts of their enslaved ancestors in colonial Jamaica.
Maisy Card is a fantastic writer, but it would be fairer to call this book a collection of interconnected short stories - it is a little too disjointed for a novel. I think it really suffers from lacking a chapter from the perspective of Vera, Abel's second wife, and glimpses into their daughter's childhood. And while the last chapter, on its own, is an excellent ghost story, it ends the novel on a bizarre note as no magical realism had been present before.